In the UK last year, there were 2,823 victims of ‘honour-based’ violence, a figure revealed by (limited) UK police statistics for 2011 obtained by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation through a freedom of information request: about a dozen killings happen every year.
Apologists wish us to lump honour killings in with domestic violence, to avoid having to ask any awkward questions about other people’s values, but they are, in fact, very separate. In domestic violence, an individual (mostly men) batters or murders another individual. Honour killings and honour violence are a family matter.
These crimes are under-reported but annually the killings run into many, many thousands worldwide. From an in-depth academic study of 172 honour killings, based on information obtained from English-language media world wide, here are some striking statistics and conclusions.
Yes, it’s a cultural rather than a religious thing, stemming from some nasty tribal customs of South Asia and the Middle East, but though Hindus, Sikhs and the odd Christian might be perpetrators, the blunt truth is that honour killings are mainly Muslim-on-Muslim (91 per cent worldwide, 84 per cent North America, 96 per cent Europe).
Worldwide, two-thirds of victims (93 per cent women) were killed by their families of origin: 49 per cent in North America, 66 per cent in Europe and 72 per cent in Muslim countries. More than half the victims died in agony, having been either gang-raped or burned or stoned or beheaded or stabbed many times.
Being ‘too Western’ did for 58 per cent: this includes being insufficiently subservient, rejecting Islamic dress, wanting a career, having non-Muslim friends or boyfriends, rejecting an arranged marriage or leaving an abusive husband.